Posted on 24 May 2009
Note: this is a post from when this blog was hosted on Blogger. The general template has stayed the same, but for reference, here’s what it looked like at the time:
an explanation of the design and content of this site
Welcome to blog.AndrewKurjata.ca. After having a number of Blogspot.com and a couple of WordPress.com blogs over the years, I finally decided to break down and buy my own domain. Originally, it was just going to be a resume, but after making a site for that I realized I wanted to have a dynamic page where I could keep up on my current interests activities, while leaving the resume on a static page. So I put my resume on a subdomain here, my blog on this page, and am using AndrewKurjata.ca as a sort of parking spot/index for everything I’ve got going on.
After deciding on how things would be mapped out, I set about designing the pages. In order to set them apart, I wanted each of my three pages to be visually distinct, with only the shared names and some shared links grouping them together. I’d already made the resume page using a heavily-modified K2 template that I’d made and been using for a while on my music blog (which has become pretty much inactive since I started writing for NxEW.ca). What I like about it is the ability to “brand” it with a simple photo, and the tabbed navigation at the top that makes it easy to work with a bunch of different categories– useful for an online cv. I incorporated a coloured “talk box” theme to give the page a visual theme that didn’t interfere or distract from the text, and I’m quite happy with the results.
Next was AndrewKurjata.ca. Since this is my “homepage” it’s the first place I’ll be directing people to, and as such I wanted somehing visually striking. I’ve always been a fan of black backgrounds, but for anything text-heavy using black is rarely a good idea. But for a “launchpad” site, where the content is limited to about ten words and seven icons, it serves to make a bold impression.
Finally, there was this blog. As I said before, I’ve had a number of blogs over the last few years, and while at first I wanted to pack them full of as many tricks as I could, I’ve been gradually getting more minimalist as I become familiar with design concepts. I decided that this time I wanted to strip things right down. After looking at a few templates, I fell in love with the absolutely gorgeous Depo Skinny template for WordPress, made by Derek Powazek. It was perfect: plain white background, single column blog, with only the title and some pictures at the top, with everything else relegated to three columns at the bottom so as not to distract from the viewing experience. This was what I wanted.
So why didn’t I use it? Bascially, I’m cheap. Unless you want to use one of about 50 default WordPress.com themes, your ability to customize in that platform is limited unless you’re willing to a) pay WordPress for an upgraded .com account, or b) pay someone to host your site for you. Actually, that’s not entirely true– my domain came with free economy hosting, but using this requires having a giant “Go Daddy” banner ad (I know, I’ve heard the problems, but they’re cheap and actually I’ve found their customer service to be pretty decent) at the top– and having that sort of defeats any efforst made at having a simple, elegant-looking blog. I don’t hold it against anyone trying to make some money, but at this point I can’t really justify paying $50+ a year just to have a pretty website.
So instead, I opted to custom design a (free) Blogger template using DePo Skinny as the model. To do this, I took a single-column Photoblogger layout with a three-column footer, and then started stripping out everything I didn’t want. Goodbye, background colour! Farewell, borders! Gadgets, pictures, and non-primary colours– adios! After filling my other blogs with ultimately pointless bells and whistles, I’m down to this– it’s not quite DePo Skinny, but it’s close, and it’s customized, so it feels like it’s mine. But the idea is the same: simple, simple, simple. I find the blogs I like best are the ones where you’re left to focus on what’s been written, and aren’t distracted by too many things on the side, so I figure it’s about time I used that format, too.
I’m also going to take a different approach for content, too. Before, I tried narrowcasting on certain subjects, or subject-categories. The problem with this is I often would have something I wanted to share that didn’t fit in, so I would just leave it out, and I felt compelled to write about things that fit into the subject but that didn’t necessarily interest me. No more. I’m taking the Twitter approach with this one– this blog is about me, to an extent, or rather is about what OTHERS are doing and saying that I find interesting, or a combination of the two. Really, I’m just going to let it develop organically rather than try to force it into any particular category.
The other difference is that before I would try to write newspaper-to-magazine length posts about whatever it was I was writing about. But in keeping with the minimalist theme, I’m going to try and keep the ones here very short and to the point. Again, this is partly what it’s about: I’m not trying to sell myself as an expert on anything here, nor do I plan on getting too autobiographical, so there shouldn’t be much need for length. Also, I think that by allowing/forcing myself to write less, I’ll probably post more without losing steam, and the quality won’t be diluted by lengthy rants as it has in the past.
Of course, I recognize the irony that a post of this length ends with me talking about how I’m going all minimalist, but I’ve got to start somewhere, right?
So, if you have any comments about the design, I’d love to hear it, and if you like what you see and have a questions about how to implement it yourself, give me a shout and I’ll be happy to help where I can.
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